Thursday, 10 March 2011

Is Melancholia Supposed To Feel Good?

It's always the case, in my experience. You do something online to service people who genuinely give a shit about the music and eventually, typically, the people not cordially invited to the party (or, presumably, any parties judging by their social skills) try their best to ruin the fun. Except that they don't ruin the fun, the fun just moves someplace else and they're left in the same miserable place as they were already. I remember when the police used to try breaking up outdoor raves in the 80's. It didn't stop people enjoying both music and company, it just made them smarter, and they went underground. It also made the police seem ineffectual. Sadly so. No one wanted the police to appear so petty and joyless. I guess we wanted the police to seem cool, like we want fans of music to appear cool. It's sad when they (fans and police) come across like mosquitoes. I don't even squash tiny insects, yknow?

And so here we find ourselves, on, continuing the party. Please spread the word about this place. It won't be long before negative creeps find and pollute this place too. Let's enjoy it while we can.

Speaking of raves and the 80's, I kinda miss the days when musicians were expected to be unapproachable. When it was all about music. When there was no means of getting a reply from a musician apart from actually writing to their fanclub and maybe getting a response. And when going to all that effort the last thing you wanted to say was "I think you're a fat cunt", right? At least I didn't want to say that.
Don't get me wrong, in a day and age when we get to speak to supporters of our music I value the opinions, thoughts and general presence of anyone who actually cares about music. I love communication. But I do tend to move away from extreme negativity. Just uproot and move. I have to. It makes me angry, and I really don't like feeling such anger, especially at people I'm supposed to be making music for. It makes me entertain thoughts you probably wouldn't believe I harbour.

Still, there was an emphasis on the music in 80's that isn't there anymore.
With this in mind I thought I'd visit some music that meant a lot to me when innocence shaped my listening pleasure. Some of it might strike a chord with you, some of it might make you feel sick, but the beauty of this era of info-lution is that switching off is as easy as opening up a new window.
Back in my day you'd have even remotely relevant music programmes on TV maybe once a week, now you have youtube. And with attention spans evolving into such flimsy forms of distraction, so desperate that insulting accessible musicians becomes a modern method of approach, it's time to wonder "did rock stars get too close to the fans?"

I'd never heard of Steve Hackett before hearing this song. After hearing more of his stuff I find difficult to picture him playing music like this, but then it was around the time of punk, and I guess that movement affected everyone, from pop guys to prog rockers. This time its effect was rewarding.
Still, some stuff on the radio was completely unaffected by punk, yet still proved to be essential purchases for me. records I will cherish to my dying day.

I remember hearing this one morning and I was still laughing so hard, hours later, that I scrabbled together my pennies and procured the single that afternoon.

Probably around the same time scale two singles with the same title came out, both of which I still treasure in their original sleeves.

Can I just mention that at this point in this blog that I realise you can't be having nearly as much fun as me listening to this stuff, but maybe, just maybe, someone out there remembers these selections and is feeling the same pull of melancholia. It's that possibility that keeps me doing stuff like this. Its that belonging that makes me even continue to make music.

Like, for instance, if someone loves this track even half as much as I do then I have done something worthwhile here this evening. And that is enough for me.

And this... (although it has been used in movies recently). This really makes me feel young again. I don't miss youth but I do miss innocence.

I guess I came here tonight with nothing to say except that I'm stuck in Helsinki missing my family, and wishing that music today made me feel something close enough to how I felt as a child. Then I came across this video and realised that music DOES make me feel like that sometimes, I guess I just feel a little jaded from being neck deep in the sport, y'know?


I guess feeling melancholy isn't so bad after all. Right?


In that case why do I feel so fucking sad?

Friday, 4 March 2011

When Swimming Against The Tide...

...swim until your arms get tired, and when they do? Stick them together and pray the tide is headed towards the shore, and not away from it.
Otherwise you're fucked, mate.
Have a nice swim.

I guess I'm not one of life's more quotable people.

"If you're going through Hell, keep going" Winston Churchill.
Now there's a quote.

I love Winston Churchill quotes, very uplifting, especially in a world in such desperate need for heroes that we elect Charlie Sheen as the worlds most quotable generator. Now don't get me wrong I love this whole Charlie Sheen Winning thing. I'm not one of those people who are bored with it. I never get bored of illuminating characters. I cling onto them and hope they don't go away, or get boring, much like the guy swimming against the tide. Except I know which way the water is heading and, just as with the entertainment world, it is heading in the way it is supposed to go, via the path of least resistance. The popular way.

Except I hate the popular way. Always did, always will. McDonalds is the popular way and that tiny bistro, the one sells the best home cooked food you ever tasted, will be kept tiny because everyone would rather eat at McDonalds. Everyone in the world it would appear. It is the popular way.
Fuck the popular way.

Winston Churchill lead the British to victory because he trod the unpopular path, and there couldn't have been much in the way of company amid those overgrown weeds and that rough, uneven rock floor. The company would have been treading the popular, smooth, level road, unthinking, unchanging, uninspired. Having it easy. Not winning, not in any way.

Nothing has ever been done of any worth by taking the obvious approach, except for maybe creating a social level of excellence that you can obtain easier than nabbing a library card. Life is hard? Bullshit. In the western world life is designed to feature as little hardship as the public will demand from the comfort of worn out armchairs, 32" flat screens and lap tops. They make it easy because it keeps us quiet.
Being out of shape sucks, TV is boring and the internet fries your brain, these are all universally accepted facts, and acceptance takes way less energy than resistance.
There's that bloody swimmer again.
And I feel like that swimmer today. I feel like giving up trying to make a difference. The modern business model tells me that albums are dead, so why bother making them? The average Schmoe wants to flail around willingly accepting arcane modes of promoting and marketing, so why even try to change heritage?

Except I can't escape from a basic mode of operation that follows me to bed and is there to greet me when I wake up.


What is so great about anyone else's method that it can't be challenged?

This little guy agrees, even if no one else around him does.

And this guy agrees, even though everyone else ends up also agreeing.

The one thing they've got in common is that success was the last thing on their mind. They just wanted to fight apathy.
We lost the music industry because we didn't fight apathy, and now the only way you're gonna make a cent is by getting off your arse. And, judging by the plague of inactivity going round at the moment, 'sit on down' is most definitely the new 'get on up'.
Maybe we actually needed the spark that was the record industry? Jesus, did I just say that?

Here's some genius to enjoy. Just pure, simple genius that only involved someone saying "hey, what if we did this?". It cost them nothing but imagination and balls.

Yesterday I finished off recording for the new album "The Frankenstein Effect". Made me feel weird. I was listening to it thinking "nothing really sounds like this. I mean I like it but I have absolutely no idea if anyone else will".
That slight apprehension was met with giddy excitement and slight nausea, and it was a feeling I'm not readily used to. I normally kinda know when something is good, or great, or falling short of the mark, based on established standards and norms.
I'm in Kerrang! magazine this week with a nice news feature/studio report. Been told for ages that studio reports aren't important, that news features aren't important, but I tend to hear discouragement from people as "if it isn't my idea then I'm not interested", then I go ahead and try to do it anyway.
I'm that penguin who doesn't care that other penguins stand around in the cold to keep warm, I want to see if leaping about keeps you warm too. And this time it did, but it was also fun.

Still there is only so much swimming against the tide that can be done before fatigue sets in, and I have to say I'm starting to feel a little tired lately. Tired of having to reinforce ideas, (voluntarily) running ahead of others, investing my own money and trying to persuade others that something is worth doing. Sometimes I think I want to give up, give in, see how things would be if I stopped working so hard. Except I kind of know how things would be if I stopped giving a shit and it looks pretty bleak, to be honest.
Let's hope the tide changes direction soon, eh?

In the meantime here's something nice n' disturbing with which to change the subject.

Blogs are weird, aren't they? Given the absolute freedom of expression sometimes, I imagine, this outlet exposes musicians as shiny little ornaments housing very little of any worth, but, I suspect, sometimes it elevates lesser known commercial entities and highlights internal workings rather more fascinating than their meagre mainstream success would suggest to be the case.
And other times it's more of a cathartic purge. This one feels more like a trail of breadcrumbs leading back to where I started, except that I felt lost at the beginning and now I'm not sure there ever was a point. We all feel lost. Life is tough for everyone. We all feel like we're going a bit mad (right?). Things often make very little sense.
Sometimes we need something familiar to cling on to, like this:

Yeah, feel a bit lost today. Lost and alone. Thought I'd let you know, just so you know you've got company.

You're not alone. Or, should I rephrase that, we're all alone.
That's what belonging is.
Bearing that in mind it shouldn't be hard to swim against the tide, right?
Except that it is. Anything worth doing tends to be really difficult otherwise everyone would make a difference. Why should they put you off? Fuck them, do it anyway.

Whatever it is you want to do why not just go and do it? Do it without giving a shit what people say or who is by your side.
And if you're alone then fuck it, so is everyone.
So was the guy that started the dance craze in the festival video upstairs. And the first guy who joined him? He was alone too. And then there was a huge crowd sharing the glorious experience of being alone, together.

We arrive in this world alone and we die alone, and we make a difference alone.

Don't let it put you off.

Happy fucking Friday. Here's the Wanky Shit Demon.

Monday, 28 February 2011

I'm Bored

I never get bored. I actually thought I was incapable of enjoying boredom. I'd often marvel longingly at facebook updates of friends reporting 'crippling boredom' and 'not knowing what to do' with themselves.
Statements that cunjured up exotic flights of fantasy wherein the protagonist is taken from their busy routine and thrust, Alice In Wonderland style, into a labrynthian system of dense mind infused fancy as a result of all mundane grounding being violently stripped away and a psychedelic slice of hemispheric free form spasm tears the safety ropes from the earth in the wake of its crushing ennui.

What is it to be bored? And if this is how it actually feels then do people really appreciate it enough? Do they appreciate it at all? Do they see boredom as the lunchtime holiday in the working week of life that it truly is? Do other folk sit at the station of boredom or leap onto the first train that comes trundling through?

While I sat and contemplated on the topic I figured you like to watch a baby monkey riding backwards on a pig.

Y'see I was supposed to go house hunting today, but the planning side of the venture was left to someone who has scant talent in the art of planning, and, therefore, was left so late as to be ultimately canceled. The urge to get frustrated and angry was mercifully fleeting and joyfully replaced with a calm that bordered on remedial. And the calm turned into boredom. Beautiful, strange, bewildering boredom. Which got me thinking of this thing:

That little dog, he lives around here. See him every day. Cutest little fucker I ever saw. Every time I walk past him I feel like I've brushed the hallowed personal space of a hollywood star.

It doesn't actually feel like that in Hollywood, y'know. Being in the presence of fame feels kinda disappointing in Hollywood, like those recognisable Hollywooders are never quite tall enough, or just a little older than you'd expect.
This furry little fella, however, is exactly how he looks in film, except it isn't really film is it? It's something called hi def video, that's supposed to look like film. Doesn't look like any film I've ever been in awe of, truth be known. Guess awe is a little cut price these days, like most other things. Maybe that's why the word awesome has replaced 'great', and there's no word for awesome anymore.

Anyway, this thing upstairs was my first attempt at filming and editing (even wrote an original song for it, and this can only be seen/heard on youTube, y'know? Artistic statements, however received, are pretty thin on the ground these days too).
Honestly? was a pain in the arse to edit music and movement on iMovies but I persevered until, by then end of 2010-shooting a Michael Monroe road movie footage, I got pretty good at it. Kinda looked like the road movie was going to top and surpass the hour mark too, when my laptop started straining under the weight of the sheer amount of footage I was filling it with.

It was rumoured that there would be a loaner laptop supplied with which to finish the movie.
There was also talk of visiting an editing suite to finish the movie.
Neither happened, the laptop died and the movie was lost.
There's a bit of it on the deluxe version of the new Michael Monroe album, if you really want to see the diaper years of my editing/filming training.
Seems a little redundant to state that the editing got way better as the movie progressed, suffice it to say that I guess it's kinda cool to have a 'lost' movie.

Wish I could show you some of it here, though.
Regrets? Ah, I call them all experience.

So, in the absence of presenting the 'found' footage of the 'lost' movie (trust me, it is truly lost) here's another bozo doing their thing.

Which got me thinking of this video:

Then I started to get so thrilled by my new found boredom that I decided to make a list of songs that I have lying around spare, unreleased, unheard, unloved. I had to stop counting when I realised that there's an easy triple album of stuff waiting to be recorded. Maybe I'll do that this year? That would be fucking mental, and I do like to court challenges that scare the living bejeezus out of me.
Boredom certainly makes you fantasise healthily about the future. And if I do happen to make a triple album of stuff this year then we can thank this little period in the wilderness for that too.

Boredom, it would appear, rocks.

Bet the people who came up with these little gem like visual fabrications were bored, right?

I thought about UFO's while I was bored. I've a feeling that there's going to be some groundbreaking revelations made regarding information disclosure in the next few years. I also reckon it's going to make a lot of sense out of a lot of stuff that doesn't make sense.
Anyway I like UFO videos.
Even if they're patently fake I still get a thrill if they're well executed.

Speaking of executing I'd like to have everyone publicly garroted who makes or spreads those annoying fucking videos where some innocuous footage you've been duped into watching suddenly bursts into a scream and a horror face leaps out at you.
Remember those fuckers at junior school that'd pretend to push you off a bridge if you were standing too close to the edge? These are the same cunts that enjoy spreading this shit. Probably.
Public removal of their intestines, that's what I say.
No one would miss them, right?
Not even their own family.
In fact I reckon even their own kids would be relieved to live without their pretend-pushing-scream-video-arse-cocking antics.
But that's just me being bored.

Hey, speaking of kids, it's almost time to pick mine up. This has been fun. I can't wait to be bored again. Think I like being bored.

This evening I'll be praying for more boredom. Big fat chunks of it hurtling at me, urging me to dance my way out of their trajectory. And dance I will.
Hey, maybe Dancing With Boredom is a good song title? Shit, stop...I could end up with a quadruple album at this rate. Now that would be boring.

So, can boredom really be as fantastic fun as it appears to have been?

Or is the stark truth, as I fear, merely that some people just can't get fucking bored?

While you ponder on that one, here's the least boring action sequence ever. Have a stimulating day.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Good Rats

Okay, listen to this:

Right, if you're still with me the listen to this next:

I'm loving The Good Rats today. My love for this New York based band from 70's/80's is based on the fact so few people know who they are that I make regular converts of previously blissfully unaware people happy in the knowledge that they've heard everything they need to hear. People who insist that they're immune to feelings of "what the fuck was that?" and "can I hear it again, NOW, otherwise I will stab your face" when considering new music (and by 'new' I mean 'new to the listener').
Have we got so used to information access that we forget that access is limited to our own experience?
Experience, itself, being concept that should be in a constant state of flux, by its very definition.
Isn't experience that which hasn't happened yet? Like everything exciting that is going to happen to you for the rest of your life.
Few things are as thrilling as hearing a new band, and then discovering that they're armed with a rich mine of material it'll take you the best part of fucking ages to track down and fall in love with.

I think this was the first Good Rats song I fell in love with:

I saw a photo of the strangest band I'd ever seen, on a record in a second hand record shop-in the bargain bin, and gambled the 2 quid on what could have been a slightly disappointing listening experience and a brief bout of regretting that I hadn't spent the money on ten Number 6 instead.
I can't even say that I loved the whole album instantly, in fact I almost certainly grew to like this album over the next year or so, but it made this little music hound go searching out more Good Rats stuff, just in case, y'know, maybe these bozos were onto something.

The next purchase was "Tasty", an album who's cover yelled "buy me" more than any album since the inner gatefold of Kiss Alive 2. Once that red and green headache of a cartoon cover had made its way back home with me the album started to befriend me in a way I was entirely unexpected for. The opening track (that you can find at the beginning of this missive - surely one of the best opening songs of any album, ever) aside, the harmonies and dueling, snarling guitars lured me in like the sweetest trap this young gormandizer had been subjected to in his brief tenure on this ball of nonsense that calls itself earthville. This title track, for instance?!?!?

Sure it rocked, which was the deal maker, but it made me think in a way that Kiss hadn't. Hell Kiss STOPPED me thinking. The Good Rats were forcing my brain to actually engage in a way that only punk had previously demanded. I was young, I didn't want to think if I had a choice in the matter. Dammit.

So here I am, 16, thinking about music, how it can fuck with your standards, challenge your politics and, sneakily, shape the player you're about to blossom into.

The Good Rats made me realise that Punk is a moral and political stance, and not just an excuse to play lousy guitar. Rock is the extreme nature in which you present yourself as a performer, and not a reason to avoid listening to anything that your mates might be afraid to approve of.

The Good Rats made me choose my own personal side of the fence.
How many bands/artists force you to make this decision? Wouldn't it be a better place if music forced you to choose? Aren't you tired of feeling slightly deflated in response to a band that someone is forcibly championing like a belligerent floon? Maybe you even feel slightly deflated at The Good Rats themselves?

That's not the point I'm making, and you know it.

The point I'm making is that if you aren't satisfied with the sounds you're hearing today then dig deeper, dig a LOT deeper. If choons were better when you was young, and it all seems a bit samey n' stuff, then do your damned research, delve into the vaults of music history and check out some bands you've otherwise/innocently avoided until now. Do the grunt work. Make the effort. Get off your dissatisfied arse.

Don't let music lose you. Don't give up on it, baby.

It really is your best friend, be nice to it. Let it lead you. Steer those two odd shaped vessels either side of your head into strange, unchartered waters and expect nothing but great adventures and wonderful experiences.

Hey, begin with The Good Rats, why dontcha?

Friday, 25 February 2011

Why Can't I Relax?

How hard can it be? Chill out, do nothing, vegetate and attempt fuck sodding all. How can that be a feat of almost unfathomable complexity?

It's not like I couldn't use it. I started the year seeing the album I helped write and perform on (Michael Monroe 'Sensory Overdrive', lovely album, you'll like it) reach completion before writing an entirely new album, then performing and co-producing the bleedin' thing, resulting in a grand total of zero hours off so far in 2011. It looks like this theme will continue as Mr Monroe takes the new album on tour. Then my album will come out. Then something else will happen, I'd imagine.

With such a rich well of activity running alongside fatherhood and the search for a new house, you'd think that, given a very rare evening off, little 'un asleep & missus on the lap top, I'd be able to sit back and enjoy a few valuable, contemplative hours of blissful nothingstance, right? RIGHT? No, I'm sat here with the last flimsy whisps of strength I can muster forcibly dragging open droopy eyelids to do something. Anything. It doesn't matter what it is, just as long as it isn't nothing.

Never give up, never surrender.

Go to sleep, you fucking mutant.



My point exactly.


Some of us were meant to wander along this road allowing opportunity and experience, inevitably, to bounce off us along the way. And some of us are meant to pat fellow imaginary successors on the collective back for achievements slightly greater than not forgetting to breathe while sleeping.

I guess the main reason why I can't relax is because I want to be aware. When something, anything, happens to drop my way I want to be a human fucking catchers mit. If life decides to throw me a bone I'll be the hungriest, most toothsome hound around and I'll snap up that bone and the arm, and the person behind it.

And if nothing happens? Then I'll make something happen.

See, I can't sit around. I can't. I wasn't made to do that.

And that is why life has forbidden me the kind of success that would give me time off.


This place....

What's this all about then?